Monday, July 12, 2004

On the up- or at least not downside

The annual first amendment survey by the First Amendment Center, published July 1, finds that
Americans' support for their First Amendment freedoms — deeply shaken by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — continues to rebound and is back at pre-9/11 levels, according to the annual State of the First Amendment survey, conducted by the First Amendment Center in collaboration with American Journalism Review magazine.

"The 2004 survey found that just 30 percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement, 'The First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees,' with 65 percent disagreeing. The nation was split evenly, 49 percent to 49 percent, on that same question two years ago, in the survey following the '9/11' attacks," said Gene Policinski, acting director of the First Amendment Center.

"Despite the ongoing war on terrorism worldwide and regular warnings from authorities about domestic attacks, a significant majority of Americans continue to support a free and open society," Policinski said. "Still, having about one in three Americans say they have too much freedom is a disturbing figure."
Indeed. In two separate commentaries and an analysis of the results, scholars at the Center note the often-contradictory, often-muddled views Americans have of the First Amendment and what it means. Still, there's a certain comfort, limited though it may be, in the awareness that at least some among us have come back to their senses.

Copies of all the annual surveys can be found here.

Footnote: Test yourself: Without looking, how many of the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment can you name? I'll even give you a hint: There are five.

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